The FTC Is Poised to Respond to Android Update Fiasco

Since the Android Mobile OS doesn't have a robust updating system that protects against viruses, the ACLU has filed suit against the big four providers.
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Written by Staff Writer • Posted on Apr 29, 2013

News that the FTC might break up the major cell carriers backlog on updating Android devices broke last week—and it’s news that’s been a long time in coming.

If you’re unfamiliar with the situation, most of the major cell phone providers—AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile—have been less than forthcoming on the state of the security for their android devices. What they’ve essentially done is to refuse to update the operating system on the phone, leaving it vulnerable to malware, viruses and other issues that could compromise your security. Moreover, the reason they won’t update their operating systems is because they don’t want to incur the cost of building out an expensive updating framework. In our view, that’s pretty below the belt.

In response to this behavior, the ACLU has filed suit against the big four providers, with the goal of getting them to do one thing—just be upfront about the fact that malware, spyware and other viruses are easy to contract while using an Android phone that does not have the ability to update. Honestly, that’s the kind of thinking we, here at Bask, applaud.

Consumers should have a right to know whether or not the device they’re purchasing is going to be susceptible to these kinds of issues. The reality is that most malware and viruses are contracted via downloading an app. And, given that most android devices download their apps right from the Google Play Store,which vets out every app for potential viruses/malware/issues, it seems like there are potentially bigger fish to fry here. After all, malware and viruses are a much bigger problem in Europe and Asia where there is less scrutiny over what makes it out there as an app.

This is a step in the right direction, but, shouldn’t the carriers and Internet providers be spending their time delivering devices that are fast, secure, and easy to be updated. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask, does it?

--Andrew Parker, Managing Editor